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Fairgrounds redevelopment proposals denied

Efforts to redevelop the Montgomery County Fairgrounds hit a snag today with the news that the two project proposals were rejected.

Two months ago, Dayton-based Miller-Valentine Group and Indiana firm Thompson Thrift submitted proposals to reinvent the 37-acre site on South Main Street.

But a committee that reviewed the plans has determined they fell short of the selection criteria and chose not to award the project to either firm. The announcement was made this afternoon.

Following two months of review, the City of Dayton, Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Agriculture Society determined that neither proposal fully addressed the required proposal components set forth in the RFP, according to a prepared statement.

Earlier this year, Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Agricultural Society and the city of Dayton partnered together to try to find a firm to redevelop the fairgrounds property.

The county issued a request for proposals to transform the site.

The bid request asked for a dense, mixed-use urban development that offers at least 600 market-rate housing units and retail, dining and office spaces.

Miller-Valentine Group and Thompson Thrift both submitted plans to bring that vision to life.

But a committee consisting of city, county and fairboard representatives have rejected both proposals, saying they did not pass muster.

The minimum bid for the right to acquire and develop the fairgrounds was $15 million.

Miller-Valentine, which is headquartered in downtown Dayton, is a major player in commercial and residential projects in the region.

The firm has built and developed more than 10 million square feet of commercial property, as well as 15,000 multi-family housing units.

The firm had a considerable headstart on the competition: It has worked for several years on plans to acquire and reimagine the property.

In late 2013, Miller-Valentine entered into a two-year option agreement with the fair board to buy the fairgrounds property, and proposed moving the county fair to Brookville. But the purchase failed to move forward.

Thompson Thrift, a construction and development company based in Terra Haute, Ind., has a diverse portfolio of completed projects across more than 100 cities in 16 states. The firm has built retail centers, mixed-use developments and apartment complexes with upscale, resort-style apperances.

In September, Miller-Valentine leaders said their firm’s proposal for the fairgrounds would be “transformative” and would create a development unlike anything created in Dayton in decades.

Thompson Thrift said its proposal was developed with the understanding that the fairgrounds property is extremely important to the community.

But both plans evidently failed to gain traction with the selection committee.

The request for proposals provided a variety of guidelines for the types of development that would be appropriate for the site. The project is supposed to include active spaces on the first floors of buildings, research-oriented land uses, limited surface parking and ultimately create an “identifiable, unique sense of place for this iconic landmark site.”

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